Downtown Los Angeles Community Events

Clifton’s Cafeteria – Before Andrew Meieran

Clifton’s Cafeteria – Before Andrew Meieran

This is an exciting month for Downtown LA with the opening of Le Petit Paris, The Broad Museum, and after 4 years and $10 million in renovations, Clifton's Cafeteria!

There have been many previews and photos of the new Clifton's Cafeteria (links at the end of this post), which opens to the public on September 22nd, but here are some photos and captions (before I knew much about Clifton's history and Meieran's project) from October 2011, just before Clifton's shut its doors for the remodel.


Clifton’s Cafeteria, a landmark in Downtown LA, was recently bought out by the owners of The Edison – a very popular speak-easy bar in Downtown LA that still demands a long line on the weekends to get in.   Clifton’s is now undergoing renovations and we were lucky to stumble into it one last time before the major changes.

outside old Clifton's

Clifton’s Cafeteria is located on Broadway right off the corner of 7th street.  The photos above show how Clifton’s looks today and how it looked originally (I wish I knew what year the photo was taken).  I wonder when and who decided to cover it up and if the new owners will make any major changes to the facade.


Welcome bear.  To the left, when you enter, is a cute wooden bear welcoming you.


Clifton's trays.


The food serving area is quite big.  They must have served a lot of food in its prime.  The above photo was taken on a late Sunday afternoon well past the lunch rush, but it definitely does not have much of a crowd anymore.


Carving station.


There are cute vintage styled signs everywhere.


As you can see, the food isn’t spectacular.  It’s the reason why we’ve been to Clifton’s only a total of 3 times in the 2.5 years we’ve lived in Downtown LA.  As much as we don’t want them to renovate the place, we’re looking forward to better food that’s better in quality and taste.  Hopefully they’ll keep the food at a reasonable price.


After you’ve made your food selection and pay the cashier, you step out into the 1st floor dining area.


The 1st & 2nd floors have a forest theme.  If you look closely, the trees along the walls are coat racks!


The photo above was taken on the 2nd floor above the cashier area and you can see the entrance/exit out to Broadway.  They also have a little bakery in the front.


The Pimp.  The first time we went to Clifton’s, we saw “The Pimp”.  He’s always dressed in fuzzy hats and jackets that light up!  He looks like he’s been going to Clifton’s since his prime!  I wonder if he’ll still be going there after the renovations.



There’s tiered seating between the 2 stairways and a little waterfall.


2nd Floor Seating.  There’s even more seating on the 2nd floor above the food serving area.


The above photo is taken by the waterfall area looking into the 2nd floor seating area.   To the right is one of the stairways from the 2nd floor to the 3rd floor.  Yes, there’s another floor!


When you first come up to the 3rd floor, they have a section with old photos and souvenirs.


Photos of the original owners of Clifton’s – 5 generations!


All you can eat for 64¢! ..and it looks like there was another location on Olive & 6th??


3rd Floor Seating Area.

So, as you can see, Clifton’s Cafeteria is huge!  From what I’ve read on-line, the new owners plan to keep the 1st floor as a cafeteria and turn the top 2 floors into a tiki lounge and night club!  I really hope that the renovations are more in line with restoring the place vs. a complete change, but either way, I’m glad that they’re working on bringing something “new” to the neighborhood.


The outside of Clifton’s has a lot of tiling and decoration.  Looks likes this gentleman will miss the old Clifton’s too.

Photos taken on September 24-25, 2011.
Captions from my old blog post on October 23, 2011.

Clifton's Cafeteria website
Years In The Making, Downtown's Iconic Clifton's Cafeteria to Reopen After Remodel - CBS Los Angeles
Inside the Reborn Clifton's Cafeteria in Downtown - Eater LA
Clifton's Cafeteria is finally reopening, crammed with curiosities on every floor - Los Angeles Times
Behold the Fantastical New Clifton's, Opening September 17 - Los Angeles Magazine
Clifton's Official Opening to Benefit the Conservancy - Los Angeles Conservancy

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